Video: Watch Union Rags win the Belmont.
With I'll Have Another out of the Belmont Stakes, retired after suffering a surprising tendon injury, the scene at Belmont Park was more subdued than expected, a product of another year without a Triple Crown. The shocking scratch turned a weekend full of promise and intrigue into, well, just another race in some regards. But it's still the Belmont, and still the toughest test in horse racing.
Dullahan and Union Rags benefited the most from I'll Have Another's scratch, each assuming the favorite role as a result. Simply judging by the odds, these two were the horses to beat as the call to the post rang out.
As they broke from the starting gate, Paynter immediately broke fast from the outside as expected and led them to the first turn with Union Rags about three lengths off, followed closely by Dullahan. Paynter, the pace-setter, was followed by Optimizer, Unstoppable U and My Adonis down the backstretch, with Union Rags close behind. Dullahan, however, fell off and was second-to-last heading toward the final turn, seven lengths back.
Rounding the final turn, Paynter continued to hold his lead, followed by Unstoppable U and My Adonis with Union Rags on their tails. From the inside, Union Rags reeled in Paynter, snaking along the rail with about 100 yards to go.
At the wire, it was Union Rags, making its run and nipping Paynter, who nearly took it wire-to-wire, to win the Belmont Stakes.